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4 Cover Letter Mistakes You Must Avoid

I read many cover letters from active job seekers, every day. I see it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly cover letters.

As a result, I have become the go-to recruiter when people need feedback on their job applications - their cover letters, their Bio's, and their CVs. Based on my own experience I am able to give these cover letters a quick scan and immediately identify what could be missing or turn the hiring manager off.

While I cannot give you insight into every person's mind who will be reading your cover letter, I can share with you the feedback that I give my closest friends looking for a job.

1. The Opening

I quickly glance through the document for any words that could spell "disqualification". This includes spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, salutation, layout, and structure, etc.

“Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” salutation, gives the hiring manager the impression that the applicant did not take the time and effort to address it to the correct person by name as Dear Mr. Tom Higgins or Dear Ms. Rasha Al Marzoo because insufficient research was done on the job application and this could more likely be a cover letter used for multi-marketing your CV. The hiring manager could most likely fail the applicant.

2. Constant Thanking

You do not need to thank the hiring manager so much for reading your application—that you give the impression you are desperate (even if you are). This gives an average to a mediocre impression of your candidature

Demonstrate genuine interest by writing a cover letter that connects the job post with your experience, qualifications, and skills. Talk about your achievements that make your CV of high interest and your candidature the best for the job.

3. The Opening Punch

It is boring to read the same opening first line or paragraph of every cover letter. It is important that your cover letter stands out among the rest. Your opening line and paragraph must be captivating, professional, and direct. As much as possible, tailor-make your cover letter to the specific job you do with your CV.

Have a look at some examples

  • “I have always wanted to work as a telecom engineer since my 9th-grade teacher discovered my passion to work on repairing her broken mobile with a new motherboard.”

  • “My approach to management is simple: I strive to be the kind of leader, I would want to work for.”

  • “In my three years at ABC company, I increased our average quarterly sales by 45%.”

See how these examples make you want to keep reading? That’s half the battle right there.

Additionally, it makes you memorable, which will help when you’re competing against a sea of applicants.

4. The Examples

Again, the goal is not just to show you are qualified: It is to make the case that you are more qualified than all the other applicants.

You want to make clear what distinguishes you, so the hiring manager can see why you are worth following up with — you want to be memorable.

If you write a long list of skills, it will blend into every other cover letter formatted the same way. Just like you went with a unique opener, do the same with your examples. Sure, you might still include lists of skills, but break those up with splashes of personality (like you would include in your Bio) to give a better insight about you as a person.

Here is an example:

If I am in a conference room and the video is not working, I m not the sort to simply call IT and wait. I will gracefully crawl under the table, and check that everything is properly plugged in, and try and resolve the video problem immediately.

A couple of lines like this will not only lighten up your letter but also highlight your soft skills. I got the point across that I’m a take-charge problem solver, without saying, “I’m a take-charge problem solver.”

You want your cover letter to stand out for all the right reasons. So, before you click submit, take a few minutes to make sure you’re putting your best (and most memorable) foot forward.


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